Coffee Talk / French Presses

If you are an avid coffee drinker and have not heard of a french press, you should definitely look into it.  It is certainly a contender for my favorite brew method. The french press is comprised of two main components.  First, a glass beaker that comes in many sizes ranging from 8 ounces to 50 ounces. Second, a lid with a plunger that has a screen attached.  To properly brew a french press, use 7-8 grams of coffee per 6.7 ounces of water. Coffee should be coarsely ground and resemble sea salt. Add a little bit of hot water to the top of the coffee to allow it to bloom.

Blooming refers to the escape of gasses from the coffee. Next, wait 45 seconds and then pour the rest of your water.  Put the lid with plunger on and press down until the screen submerged about an inch.  This ensures that the coffee is fully submerged in the coffee.  Allow the coffee to rest that way for four minutes.  Next, slowly and gently depress the plunger, pour, and enjoy.

I love french presses.  They offer a robust flavor and heavy “mouth feel,” which refers to the viscosity of the coffee. Generally french presses result in thick and syrupy coffee.  This pairs nicely with darker roasts. Flavor profiles to look for when enjoying french press coffee include chocolaty, smoky, woody and earthy flavors.  If you are a dark roast lover, this is the brew method for you.

However, the french press does offer some limitations.  Generally speaking, light roast coffees do not turn out exceedingly well.  It seems as though the thick, syrupy consistency does not lend itself to the light, bright, and often acidic tones of light roast coffees.  Also, you typically do not want to drink the very last sip of a french press.  More often than not, very fine coffee grounds make their way past the filter(s) and end up in the last sip of the cup. I always forget this fact and get a mouth full of sandy coffee grounds. Not so fun.

I would give french press brewers an A-.  They are great for college students because all they require is the french press itself, an electric tea kettle, and coffee.  They brew a phenomenal dark roast coffee with all of the robust “mouth feel” one could want.  However, they are pretty severely limited to dark roast and (typically) flavored coffees.  All in all, the french press stacks up to be a formidable opponent.